#PunekarReminisces: Growing Up in 411004 (III)

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What else about Pune 4 can I recollect?

Its arterial roads — those deadly, pock-marked asphalt stretches that are unusable after every monsoon?

Its snarling and angry traffic?

The rush hour for bakarwadi outside Chitale?

Sambar at Vaishali?

Strangers alerting you with “aho shook shook”?

Maybe all this and something more, which is quintessentially a sense of the place.

Something old-world and slightly worn out like your favourite ‘waati’.

Pock-marked with dents and slightly lustreless from use, but has a sense of familiarity and belonging.

Pune 4 is a virtual Pandora’s box.

It throws up a lot of the past, and if you are not especially alert can well mix it up with the present.

Pock-marked with dents and slightly lusterless from use, but has a sense of familiarity and belonging.

It is as much a place as a sense of it.

I lived in a Pune 4 that was steeped in bourgeois sensibilities.

One studied, worked, married, procreated and did all the ‘right’ things because that was what was expected.

Of course this is not to preclude the flames of individuality that flutter inside each one of us.

Any gross generalization is misleading and makes us guilty of creating stereotypes. While I would like to steer clear of these, I am sure I have inadvertently added to some, at the very least.

But to sum up Pune 4 and (hopefully not contribute to creating stereotypes) it is a place quite like several others, but far removed.

It is verdant and quiet, to a large part at the very least.

You can easily get by speaking Marathi, a modicum of Hindi and of course English always wins the day.

Lanes and by lanes are covered in ancient gulmohars and bright bougainvillea take away the sting from the most nasty summers.

One feels at ease here, it has a sense of been there, done that…t-shirt is on its way.

But while I have waxed eloquent of its charm there are pockets here that probably see a different Pune 4.

Pandavnagar for a case in point.

Its a mesh of tiny houses at the foothills of Hanuman hill, behind Fergusson College. Or the ‘zopadpatti’ across from Fergusson College as you approach it from J. M. Road.

I would imagine several others like me who have grown up in these and similar ‘underprivileged housing’ all in Pune 4 who have seen a very different Pune 4.

Were they charmed by a setting sun over the tekdi?

Did they catch a children’s play at Balgandharva?

Are they far flung and live in distant lands like me now?

Carrying whiffs, scents, pictures, all largely stored in memory, of a place called home?

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